When Dan Savage started the “It Gets Better Project,” targeting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth, I had some reservations about it. I thought about some of the gay people that I know and have known, who took a more circuitous route in life, where it took quite awhile before life got better.
They’re a small minority, and I concluded that positive and uplifting messages directed at LGBTQ kids, even if they might be sugar coated, was a good thing, and far outweighed the alternative. For many LGBTQ kids, the “It Gets Better Project” provides the only gay positive messages and information that adolescent kids hear, and they need to hear those messages. And for most gay people, life does gets better with time.
As I was watching a television news story last night about the Florida teenager charged with being a lesbian sex offender, I wondered how we could instill hope in her. How can we tell Kaitlyn Hunt, 18, of Sebastian, Florida, who fell in love with a teammate on the Sebastian River High School women’s basketball team, and was charged with 2 felonies as a result, that “it gets better” with time?
Because of her lesbian relationship, Kaitlyn was charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery when she turned 18, and expelled from the high school where she was a cheerleader, basketball player, and voted “Miss School Spirit.” She’s facing a possible 15 year prison term, and would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life, if she’s found guilty of the allegations.
When I think of the challenges that young LGBT kids face, I think of how important it is to have adults who love and support them, in their corner.
Kaitlyn’s parents have been rallying the troops, and have been exemplary in standing with their daughter, and have become LGBT activists in their own right. It’s the other adults in Kaitlyn’s life that let her down. From her basketball coach, to her teachers and school administrators, the county State Attorney’s Office, and the parents of her girlfriend, have all responded to this innocent young love with bigotry and anti-gay discrimination.
In a “Free Kate” Facebook page, it says “The law is designed to protect our children, but the law does not serve its purpose when it is applied to consensual behavior between peers." I couldn’t agree more.
According to a petition on change.org (that I signed), Steven Hunt - Kaitlyn’s father - claims that the parents of her daughter’s girlfriend went to the police because they objected to their daughter’s homosexuality.
Older high school students date younger students all the time, and it’s not viewed as criminal behavior that should be punished with a lengthy prison term. This is outrageous, and pure discrimination, since the law is being applied to a lesbian high school student, with no evidence that any other student that’s gay or straight, has been charged with the same offense. Kaitlyn has been singled out, and that's wrong.
According to the Huffington Post, the hacktivist group Anonymous have announced their support for Kaitlyn, and they have launched Operation Justice4Kaitlyn, and have targeted the high school and the Indian River County State Attorney’s Office.
"While in the course of performing your duties we feel that you've lost perspective. Tsk, tsk. The truth is, Kaitlyn Hunt is a bright young girl who was involved in a consensual, same-sex relationship while both she and her partner were minors.
"She has a big future ahead of her and there are people, thousands of people in fact, that have no intention of allowing you to ruin it with your rotten selective enforcement.
"Intolerance has been the curse of this country since its inception. Frankly, we're sick of it. Specifically, we're sick of paying the salaries of people like you.
"There are quite a few organizations in this country that would prefer that our elected officials not hire bigots that hunt down and file erroneous charges against young women because of their sexual orientation. The fact is, the puritanism you practice doesn't have a place in this world any longer."
I say bravo to Anonymous - I agree with everything they wrote. If this case involved a football player dating a younger cheerleader, there would be no charges, and no arrests, and no criminal case.
The Florida law was written to protect children from pedophile predators, and Kaitlyn isn’t a pedophile or a predator. She’s a lesbian teenager who fell in love with her teammate. It’s that simple, and she’s facing a possible 15 year prison sentence because of it.
This can only be characterized for what it is, and that’s abject discrimination, and that’s outrageous.
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